Dec. 2, 1895: U.S. Rep. Thomas Brackett Reed (1839-1902), a Republican from Portland, becomes speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

He serves in that office until March 1899, a period that encompasses the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor and the Spanish-American War, which started because of that sinking.

Reed unsuccessfully seeks the 1896 Republican presidential nomination. During the campaign, when asked whether party delegates were likely to nominate him, he said, “They could do worse, and they probably will.”

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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